Student panelists during a morning session at the third Regional Undergraduate Student Research Conference.

'Empowering Research'

UD hosts third Regional Undergraduate Student Research Conference

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11:28 a.m., May 1, 2013--The third Regional Undergraduate Student Research Conference, highlighting research by undergraduate students on the people of the African Diaspora, was held recently at the University of Delaware’s Arsht Hall in Wilmington, Del.

The conference featured presentations by students from a consortium that includes the University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Lincoln University. This year, there were also presentations from students from two other institutions, the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, and The New School in New York City.

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The collaborative consortium was formed by UD's Department of Black American Studies (BAMS), under the leadership of chair Carol Henderson. 

Conference history

The first research conference was held at UD, with the focus on “Black Identity in the Age of Obama.” That conference brought together students whose work covered topics as varied as communication and youth in the midterm election to the importance of the legacies of Frederick Douglass and Nelson Mandela in paving the way for current black achievement. 

The 2012 regional symposium saw itself expand to a two-day conference that was held at Delaware State University in Dover. Andrew Blake and Myrna Nurse, both associate professors in the English and Foreign Languages department at DSU, served as marshals for this event.

Lincoln University joined the consortium and Emmanuel Babatunde, professor of sociology and anthropology at Lincoln, was instrumental in bringing students to the conference. The theme for 2012 was “Social, Technological, and Scientific Advancements of the 21st Century.” More than 40 students presented their research in topics ranging from literature, forensic biology, urban education, and psychology over the two days.

2013 conference

This year’s conference returned to UD and was held at Arsht Hall with the theme “Empowering Undergraduate Research: Producing Student Leaders in the Arts, Sciences, New Technologies, and Popular Culture.”

Student presentations examined issues including age discrimination in the workplace; the globalization of beauty ideals and images; the school-to-prison pipeline in the educational system; and the oppression of women in Islamic countries. 

Students were welcomed to the conference by George Watson, dean of the College of Arts Sciences, and interim deputy provost, Ann Ardis, both from UD. Each stressed the importance of undergraduate research and its integral connection to the process of learning, as well as the formidable impact research has on the academic experiences of students from all disciplines.  

Remarks were also given by Bradley Skelcher, associate provost at Delaware State University, who commended students for achieving academic success through their participation in this year’s conference and praised the collaborative efforts of the institutions involved for creating a vibrant environment for student achievement.

The keynote address by Kim Graham, Family Services director and spoken word instructor at Christina Cultural Arts Center in Wilmington, gave students great tools for creating blueprints for their future goals. Graham urged students to be disciplined scholars and to set high expectations for their achievement. She stressed the fact that, as scholars, they have a wonderful perspective on offering solutions to many of our society’s challenges. 

“You are an eagle…. you can see a problem from a larger perspective … and you can zero-in on a specific part of an problem and offer cogent solutions to many of the issues that face our neighborhood’s today,” she said.

In an awe-inspiring oral recitation that blended folklore with scholarly savviness, Graham encouraged students to realize the ways their research helps build bridges to the real world. 

“Our communities are waiting on you,” she stressed. 

The conference concluded with awards for the best essay and poster presentations, and four UD students received recognition: 

  • James Church, senior English major and BAMS minor, received second place for his essay presentation on continental differentiation theory;
  • Ellenie Cruz, senior secondary English education major and McNair Scholar, received honorable mention for her research on spoken word as a method of social change in education;
  • Nicole Mozee, senior political science and Spanish double major and McNair Scholar, won first place for her poster presentation on women’s representation in the Delaware legislature; and
  • Omar Duran, triple major in art history, Spanish language and literature, and Latin American and Iberian studies, and McNair Scholar, won second place for his poster presentation on the perceptions of gender in Pedro Torres’ Mujeres Asesinas.

Other winners included Atiima Thompson and Marion Simmons, both students at Lincoln University, who placed first and third respectively, in the essay presentation.

Honorable mention went to the following students for their essay presentations: Sabrina Smalls (Lincoln University), Ariel Seidman-Wright (The New School), Brittnee Marsh (Delaware State University), and Christopher Gunter (Delaware State University).  

Each of the essay and poster participant winners received a certificate of acknowledgment, and monetary awards were presented for first, second, and third place. Certificates of Achievement were given to all conference presenters.

The conference was generously supported by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Black American Studies at UD.

Photos by Evan Krape and courtesy of BAMS

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